No playoffs, but Toronto know they're playing for their jobs
TORONTO – After missing some key players in a deflating 2-1 loss to Chicago on Wednesday, Toronto FC will be more than happy to welcome back reinforcements for Saturday's home clash with the Philadelphia Union (1 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US).
Among those returning from World Cup qualifying matches are regular starters Ryan Johnson, who played for Jamaica against the United States, and Terry Dunfield, who played for Canada against Panama. Both players missed Wednesday's loss, a result that officially knocked TFC out of the playoff race.
But Johnson said there is still plenty to play for, including jobs for next season.
“Without a doubt, there’s going to be new players,” Johnson said Friday after training at Downsview Park. “So a lot of the players need to get that in their minds that there’s going to be jobs on the line and the opportunity that they have for the last six games is to show that in your position that you’re the guy for the job and they don’t need to find somebody else for that spot.
“That’s just the real thing of what’s going on right now and they just have to live with it.”
Toronto FC (5-17-6) still have a chance of catching Philadelphia (7-13-5) in the standings. The teams have played twice this year with each winning at home.
The Reds also feel they have something to prove after a poor effort, especially in the first half, against Chicago that head coach Paul Mariner said was a low point in his tenure.
“I think all the players know that we let the fans down and ourselves and the management here,” Dunfield said. “We’re ready to go out Saturday and prove a point and show everyone we’re better than that.
"I think the biggest disappointment was the lack of fight out there and that real want to win. Everybody’s going to make bad passes and make mistakes but as soon as you lose that fight you’ve got a problem. I think we’ll see it Saturday.”
The players know how Mariner feels about Wednesday’s effort.
“You can only reason with people for a certain amount of time and then you have to bring the hammer down,” Mariner said. “And that’s what I did.”
Ashtone Morgan, who also was with the Canada’s World Cup qualifying team, played as a substitute against Chicago despite arriving back from Panama on the morning of the game but is suspended for Saturday because of an accumulation of yellow cards, including one picked up Wednesday.
Darren O’Dea will be a game-day decision with a leg injury picked up late in Wednesday’s game.